Links between inflammatory pain and nightshade vegetables

There is a lot of "good" in nightshade vegetables like tomatoes.  They are high in vitamin C, potassium and lycopene.  Lycopene is known to protect from cancer and has anti-inflammatory affects.

Now the "bad"

Like medications, sometimes the side-effects or drawbacks are worse than the benefits.  In the case of tomatoes and other nightshade vegetables, they produce a toxin called solanine which may be worse than the lycopene is good.  Solanine is an alkaloid and is toxic in high quantities.   Though most of the nightshade vegetables have only trace amounts, solanine in thought to contribute to inflammation, joint discomfort and swelling.    The most common nightshade vegetables are tomatoes, eggplants, white potatoes, cayenne pepper, paprika and bell peppers.  Sweet potatoes are free of solanine and are a common replacement for these vegetables since they are rich in similar vitamins, but are not known to cause inflammation. 

Confusing data

However, there is no strong evidence that nightshade vegetables precipitate arthritis itself.  Instead studies have shown that removing these vegetables may alleviate inflammation for those who already suffer from arthritis.  But, the inflammation was likely not caused by the tomato itself, rather it is thought to be a contributer. 

Arthritis Foundation disagrees 

The Arthritis Foundation's position is that these vegetables do not actually aggravate arthritis symptoms or contribute to inflammation.  However, they do indicate that if a person feels certain foods, such as tomatoes, trigger their symptoms of arthritis, they should avoid these foods.

Other ways to reduce inflammation

In addition to changing one's diet to reduce symptoms of arthritis or generalized inflammation; you can add spices to your diet such as turmeric or ginger and foods rich in Omega 3-fatty acids.  All of which have anti-inflammatory properties.  Foods rich in anti-oxidants are thought to reduce soft tissue damage as a result of inflammation.  Always check with your physician first before starting any wholistic measures, such as those noted in this article, and to rule out other possible diagnosis or options for medications.


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